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Objective: The added value of a preoperative electrocardiogram (ECG) in the prediction of postoperative myocardial infarction (POMI) and death was compared with clinical risk factors identified from the patient's history.

Summary of Background Data: An ECG is frequently performed before surgery to screen for asymptomatic coronary artery disease. However, the value of ECG abnormalities to predict POMI has been questioned.

Methods: The study included 2967 noncardiac surgery patients >50 years of age from 2 university hospitals, who were expected to stay in the hospital for >24 hours. All data were obtained from electronic record-keeping systems. Patient history and ECG abnormalities were considered as potential predictors. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to obtain the independent predictors of POMI and all-cause in-hospital mortality. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC area) was estimated to evaluate the ability of different models to discriminate between patients with and without the outcome.

Results: A preoperative ECG was available in 2422 patients (80%) and 1087 (45%) of the ECGs showed at least one abnormality. The ROC area of the model that included the independent predictors of POMI obtained from patient history, ie, ischemic heart disease and high-risk surgery, was 0.80. ECG abnormalities that were associated with POMI were a right and a left bundle branch block. After adding these abnormalities in the regression model, the ROC area remained 0.80. Similar results were found for all-cause mortality.

Conclusions: Bundle branch blocks identified on the preoperative ECG were related to POMI and death but did not improve prediction beyond risk factors identified on patient history.

(C) 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.